Me: "Yeah. Kind of."
You: "From school?"
Me: "Technically, no. Maybe yes. We met at a bar in Madison called the Purple Duck."
You: "I had no idea."
Me: "Not a lot of a people do. It's kind of a tucked away little dive."
You: "No, I meant that she'd been to Madison."
Me: "Oh. Well, yeah. She came up for New Years. This is back in 2010."
You: "Was she visiting someone?"
Me: "Tamera Fletcher. Does that ring any bells?"
You: "Not really, but please go on."
Me: "We met at the Purple Duck. I showed up with some friends, and the place was wild by then. We just went in and joined the crowd."
You: "What was Sara doing?"
Me: "Drinking. Like anybody else there. She was already there when I arrived, so I couldn't say how much, but she could -- it was nuts. We were all getting pretty crazy."
You: "Did the two of you... do anything?"
You: "That's good."
Me: "Which isn't to say she wasn't a lovely girl. I thought she was attractive and all that. I just didn't... to be honest, I didn't have a shot."
You: "Oh no?"
Me: "She had her pick. I don't mean to sound foul or anything, but they don't make women like her in Detroit. She's a custom made beauty, one of a kind. You can be proud of that."
You: "I am. Try to be. I don't really know how thrilled to be at my daughter's hotness."
Me: "I'm sorry. I don't want to be rude."
You: "No, no. It's not you. There are a lot of things lately I'm having trouble processing."
Me: "Are you sure you really want to do this?"
You: "I feel I have to. It isn't easy, but things are making more sense... even if it's a kind of sense I don't care for."
Me: "I wish I could say I understand. Personally, I'd rather be ignorant."
You: "Most people have that preference. They even have the luxury. I don't. At least, I choose not to. So, please, go on. My daughter was the most fuck worthy."
Me: "You want a drink?"
Me: "I've got some vodka in the freezer."
You: "I've got a pint of whiskey right here... in my bag"
Me: "Must've been in the scouts -- always prepared."
Me: "I'm just gonna help myself to some vodka."
You: "If you like."
You: "How long have you lived in Chicago?"
Me: "About four years now. I was only in Madison till I finished college. Then I moved here for a job and to be closer to home."
You: "Closer to family?"
Me: "Close enough. I've got a sister I like to hang out with, but the rest don't really mean much. That's why I don't mind helping you out. Talking to you over the phone, I kind of wish you were my mom."
You: "I guess I've got that going for me."
Me: "Well, so, yeah. Cheers. The Purple Duck. Sara never stopped. She was either dancing or drinking or joking around -- some people are just incandescent. I always thought I was kind of slick till I met her. She cut off pick up lines with these sarcastic quips that were more disarming than cutting. Like she was saying, 'I know what you're getting at, but let's not deal in bullshit.'" She made people be genuine."
You: "That is nice to hear."
Me: "Then I'm glad to tell it."
You: "Though I can't help wondering if that skill is what... he was certainly being genuine, if I can be objective about such things."
Me: "I read about it in the paper. It really is -- "
You: "A calamity, misfortune, heartbreak, disaster, misadventure, blow, wreck, ruination, hardship? There are too many words that all mean the same thing, but I appreciate the sentiment."
Me: "You two must of been close. You remind me of her is what I mean."
You: "Oddly enough, that's one description I've never heard. All of her friends put the two of us in separate galaxies, if not universes apart."
Me: "But her friends only know you through her. It's a slanted view."
You: "Strangers, I suppose, are better for objectivity."
Me: "Maybe. I won't say I knew her all that well, but I think I knew her well enough to get a good portrait."
You: "Did you know she was 16 when you met her?"
You: "Would it have mattered?"
Me: "I want to say yes."
You: "But you can't be sure."
Me: "Not if I'm being honest."
You: "And how can I really tell, really tell you're being honest?"
Me: "You'll just have to trust me."
You: "Trust you. For all I know you fucked her in some trash filled alley and left her with cum drooling out of a drunken smile."
Me: "I can assure you I didn't."
You: "Thank God I've got this whiskey then. All the warmth of your assurances would leave me freezing otherwise."
Me: "What exactly do you want?"
You: "Besides my daughter back?"
Me: "Yes, besides that."
You: "I want to know how a room full of people couldn't spot a 16 year old. I don't care how drunk and dark it was in the Purple Duck. Someone should have noticed. It's like everyone went out of their way not to."
You: "I'm sorry. I'm having a hard time lately --"
Me: "It's all right."
You: " -- controlling my rage."
You: "It's just that I can't help wondering if things like this New Year's you're describing, if things had gone different. I don't know who to hate."
Me: "Makes sense. I only met her that one time."
You: "Yet, she obviously left an impression."
Me: "Yeah. I kept thinking -- I remember thinking, days later -- why can't I ever meet a girl like that? I mean, I did that night, but you know what I mean."
You: "I do. I do. Sara was one of a kind."
Me: "I get the feeling that's not a lot of comfort."
You: "It wasn't at first. It made things worse actually. However... I don't know. I think it's bound to hurt on and off again the rest of my life. Sometimes I think aren't predators supposed to pick off the weakest part of the herd?"
Me: "That's what I learned. From the TV anyway."
You: "I thought she was safe. At a sleepover."
Me: "On New Year's?"
You: "On a lot of occasions. Her friend Molly said Sara hitchhiked all the time. Said Sara told her, 'I've got a system for spotting crazies.' Every system's got its cracks I suppose."
You: "I think I've taken up enough of your time."
Me: "I didn't do anything with your daughter, but if I'd gotten the shot I probably would have. She may have been 16, but all I saw was an incredibly hot girl -- attractive for so many reasons. She's probably the only real reason that New Year's stands out in my mind. That said, I didn't recognize her picture at first. When I saw it in the paper I was just like, Who is that? How do I know her? And I remembered seeing her and wanting to fuck her before I realized the headline said she'd been -- well, you know."
You: "Thank you. I'm finding out I didn't know my Sara all that well. It helps to know what other people saw."